The Detroit Tigers aren’t expected to make a huge splash in the free agent market for the rest of the offseason – Dave Dombrowski basically said as much when he introduced Joe Nathan to the Detroit media – but if we’ve learned one thing about the Tigers under Dombrowski’s control, it’s that we should expect the unexpected.
Shin-Soo Choo is the giant name that the Tigers have been somewhat connected to throughout the offseson. He would be a big upgrade over Andy Dirks in left field – probably the only position they would/could reasonably upgrade – but I’m not of the belief that the Tigers want to handle his inevitable nine-figure long-term deal. It’s probably more realistic that the Tigers add a right-handed hitting bargain bin type outfielder who could platoon with Andy Dirks. Unless the Tigers have already pegged Steve Lombardozzi to fill that role (which I think would be a mistake).
On the pitching side of things, the Tigers will undoubtedly look to fill in the holes in their bullpen. Lost from last season are Joaquin Benoit, Jose Veras, and Drew Smyly (to the rotation), but last October’s 7-8-9 trio has thus far been replaced only by the signing of Nathan. Perhaps you could also say getting back a healthy Bruce Rondon and acquiring Ian Krol via the Doug Fister trade also count as “additions”, but neither should be viewed as money-in-the-bank high-leverage relief options for next season (though Rondon could certainly end up being that).
We’re talking at least one more solid bullpen arm, if not two. Not that they would have to be of the highly priced variety, but maybe something similar to Octavio Dotel pre-2012 or taking a chance on a non-tendered player like Andrew Bailey or John Axford (if neither are scooped up to fill nominal closing jobs elsewhere).
But the Detroit Tigers made no such moves and were connected to no such rumors so far on the first day of the Winter Meetings in Orlando. It’s shaping up to be an incredibly quiet week of Winter Meetings for the Tigers, but then again, Dombrowski has a way of surprising us.